Review The Future show

Review The Future

Summary: Review the Future is a podcast that unapologetically speculates about the impact of near-future technologies on society and culture. Topics will include the Singularity and Transhumanism, Automation and Artificial Intelligence, and more. Hosts Ted Kupper and Jon Perry blog about technology and economics at Decline of Scarcity ( and they are active in the futurist community on Twitter (@perryjon, @tedkupper) and G+.


 X012: Future Express | Categorizing Interactive Systems | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 56:31

With the explosion of possibilities in new interactive systems brought by ubiquitous computing and VR, we thought it made sense to try to nail down some precise language for how to discuss all these types of systems. In this episode we explore a possible categorization schema for interactive systems along two axes: Variability and Goal-Orientation. We walk through the ways that goal structures and variable outcomes give and take power from the creator and user of an interactive system, and discuss a wide range of systems from books and movies to sports and immersive VR, but also websites, choose-your-own-adventures, triple-A video games, and many other points between.

 X011: Future Express | The Replication Crisis and Challenges to Progress | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 53:36

In this episode, we have a free-ranging conversation that begins by discussing the modern replication crisis in psychology and other fields. We examine how this development might affect our views on the pace of progress generally. Amidst our many tangents, we consider the possibility of getting tech companies to share their proprietary data for the sake of science research and wonder if becoming an increasingly globalized society imposes coordination co

 X010: Future Express | Attention Economics and Loyalty of Digital Assistants | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:03:23

In this episode, we discuss the modern Darwinian battle for attention currently playing out on the global internet. We consider some of the psychological methods that have been and will be developed for capturing and keeping people's attention. We wonder whether the solution that will help us navigate this growing war for our eyeballs is digital assistant technology that can better help us cut through the noise.

 X009: Future Express | What Changes Under Trump? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 47:40

We're back! We really didn't want to talk about Trump, but we felt like we had to at least address it. How does the new US president affect our future predictions? Find out in this episode. Relevant Links: PAPER: Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets

 X008: Future Express | How to Train Your Personal AI and Mailbag | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:02:21

In this episode, we talk about how to train your AI recommendation engine to give you better results, and discuss the growth in music recommendation quality in particular. How much of the future is about the actual work of training your AI assistants? The reinforcement that you give them develops a model of you but simultaneously, you develop a model of it. What about if we got an algorithm admin panel to fine tune our AIs? How will algorithms handle context? We also dive into the mailbag and discuss some of the listener feedback we've gotten. In wondering who would be the mainstream spokesperson for futurology, we ask: Who is the Neil DeGrasse Tyson of the future? Tweet us your ideas @RTF_Podcast.

 X007: Future Express | AI in the Legal System and More on Technological Unemployment | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:12:52

In this Future Express, Jon and Ted discuss bringing AI to legal finance and whether that might push us toward rationalizing our laws. We mention the parking ticket fighting app DoNotPay, and imagine that type of technology growing to cover most legal needs, starting an arms race between assistant software and bureaucracies that will force them to change strategy, because they are no longer protected by the inertia of time consuming obstacles. Responding to listener feedback, we reexamine the idea of elder care robots. In our continuing discussion of technological unemployment, we wonder whether the whole issue doesn't really come down to the superstar effect, and we wonder: can capitalism survive until the singularity arrives? Should it?

 X006: Future Express | Listener Questions and Calum Chace Followup | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 57:12

In this Express episode Jon and Ted answer a listener question about the future of citizenship, and wonder how it will be challenged and whether it's even necessary at all. We respond to another question asking for a beginner's reading list. We follow up on our discussion with Calum Chace and talk through Jon's skepticism of technological unemployment problems. How long will the era of technological unemployment last? Long enough to matter or is it another blip on the road to superintelligence? Will robot housekeepers be replaced all at once or piecemeal as things like Roombas get better? Is it practical to think most people will become digital nomads or are people driven to acquire status to the point that an endless pyramid of positional goods can keep capitalism going forever? How about the meaning of an infinite movie?

 073: Can Capitalism Survive an “Economic Singularity?” | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:23:37

Author Calum Chace returns to discuss his new book, "The Economic Singularity: Artificial Intelligence and the Death of Capitalism" We discuss the likelihood of long-term technological unemployment and universal basic income, and whether the distribution challenges of our increasingly abundant economy require rethinking some of the basic elements of our current capitalist system. With something like 5 million people employed as drivers in the US, what will they do when AI can drive vehicles?

 X005: Future Express | Robot Used in Dallas and Pokemon Go! | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:50

In this extra bonus Express episode we weigh in on two topics of the moment: robots being used by police to kill civilian suspects and Pokemon Go. We cover the case for ethical use of unmanned vehicles in police work and wonder about the future of lethal and improvised technological use cases in police work, and then we switch gears to talk about the new AR / Location / IP sensation that's sweeping the nation.

 X004: Future Express | More on Kevin Kelly’s THE INEVITABLE | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 39:12

On Future Express this time Jon and Ted follow up on their discussion of Kevin Kelly's new book THE INEVITABLE, exploring the rhetoric and wondering whether a more straightforward economic analysis might have turned up more insight than the evolutionary arguments that Kelly relies on in parts of the book. We discuss whether IP reform is desirable or possible in the near future, and we wonder whether Kevin's dismissal of intelligence explosion fears is warranted.

 072: Kevin Kelly on “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 44:57

In our first "regular" episode in a while, we are joined by Wired cofounder Kevin Kelly to discuss his new book "The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future." The book takes 12 trends in digital technology and speculates as to what results we might see in the future as digital technology, with its peculiar biases and tendencies, continues to grow into more fields. The resulting conversation was far reaching and varied, touching on the Internet as the world's largest copier and tracking machine, the difference between industrial monopolies and "natural" monopolies like Google and Facebook, the amount of privacy enjoyed by forager bands. Kevin is an internet pioneer with a long history of innovating on the web, and he's refreshingly honest about the things he got both right and wrong along the way.

 X003: Future Express | ConsScale and the Threat of Cheap Weapons | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 46:03

In this week's Future Express, we discuss the ConsScale twelve-level consciousness scale and the increasing threat of violence from ever-cheaper weaponry. ConsScale describes a continuum from molecule to supergod and attempts to place some mile-markers on the road to consciousness. We discuss the levels and try to figure out where a dog fits in. Murder is getting cheaper every day, so we wonder whether a draconian civilization with either strong weapon controls or strong surveillance is inevitable. We coin the term "Feel Good Dystopia" to describe the Huxleyan vision, and relate that not enough time travel movies feature people from the past hassling people from the present about the world.

 X002: Future Express | Autonomous Weapons and Brain to Brain Interfaces | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 49:02

In this second ever Future Express episode, Jon and Ted each bring a different topic to the table. Jon raises the issue of banning autonomous weapons, the subject of an open letter released last year and of an upcoming UN review conference. Ted shares an article about brain to brain communication, a pathway to technologically enabled telepathy.

 X001: Future Express | More on Robin Hanson’s AGE OF EM | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:08:33

The first of a new type of episode, this Future Express features a looser, less polished take on some of the issues raised by Robin Hanson's recent book The Age of Em. As an addendum to our interview with Hanson last week, this tackles Jon and Ted's review of the book, whether or not they'd recommend it to others, and looks into some criticism brought up by Scott Alexander of Slate Star Codex. We wonder about what happens to the baseline scenario if Robin's assumptions about research turn out to be too conservative, and discuss stories that might come from such unusual ideas in the book as mind theft and spur safes.

 071: Robin Hanson on “What Does a Future of Emulated Minds Look Like?” | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:14:34

We're back! After a prolonged hiatus, Ted and Jon return joined by guest Robin Hanson, the economics professor and blogger at Overcoming Bias, who discusses the central concept of his new book, The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life when Robots Rule the Earth. We discuss his assumption that whole brain emulations will emerge before theoretically-driven AGI, and that this development will lead to a population explosion of "Em" minds that perfectly substitute for human labor. Will humans not be needed anymore, as Robin predicts? What will the world of ems look and feel like? Is it possible to be purely analytic when predicting the future?


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